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  Listen Up! 6/27/03 Listen Up!

Friday, June 27

The New Pornographers, “Electric Version,” Matador Records. I don’t know why, but I’ve never sat down with either of the two albums from this indie-pop super group. I love the singles I’ve heard and played on KDHX, but I just hadn’t convinced myself to check out more. And here comes this copy of the new album my way. I said these guys are a super group, but it takes a more resolute indie scholar than me to remember what other stuff anybody has done, except Neko Case, whose solo country-inflected records offer no clue to her pop exuberant presence in this band. (Also, there is a guest vocal appearance from Nora O’Connor, who I remember was in the Blacks when I interviewed them a couple years ago, and who has played with Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire; I didn’t say I wasn’t necessarily a more resolute indie scholar than you, just that I’m less resolute than a lot of people.) Carl Newman writes most of these songs, and he’s a hook-meister who believes pop/rock music should be jaunty, catchy, and melodically full. Ideas, energy, and pleasure just drip off this record. I’m convinced. I love this band.

Allison Moorer, “Show,” Universal South Records. One disc is a live concert CD, the other is the same live concert (with an extra song) DVD. That’s a cool marketing move I’d like to see more of. You can watch the show, and then listen to it in your car. Smart. Anyway, this is a magnificent performance from Moorer, who I’ve always liked but am about to graduate to loving. She can sing, possessing a hearty, rich alto that wraps around notes and words and caresses them lovingly. She also writes great songs. The concert features guest appearances from her sister Shelby Lynne – the two of them sound great together, with their disparate styles and voices offering effective counterpoint to each other – and Kid Rock, who has a blast with the song “Bully Jones.”

--Steve Pick

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